When the winter holidays come around, our family gets into a deep DIY groove. How about you? In that spirit, making an advent calendar is a great way to introduce children to the less commercial side of Christmas through hands-on making.
Although my kids adore their chocolate-filled advent calendar, each envelope in this activity advent calendar holds a description of a holiday activity inside such as:
- make our own ornaments
- go ice skating
- sing carols
To keep my life simple, I only put things inside the calendar that are already on our agenda. No need to make the holidays more stressful than they already are, right?
For a full selection of ideas click over to the PDF download of 50 Winter Activities Checklist.
The Benefits of this Activity
I didn’t grow up with advent calendars, but my children adore them. This handmade calendar, made with the help of children, gives young people the opportunity to:
- participate in a holiday tradition
- exercise fine motor skills
- generate enthusiasm for the festivities to come.
And if you celebrate Hanukkah, you could make something similar for the eight nights of Hanukkah. I know that I would have loved that when I was a kid!
DIY Advent Calendar Supplies
- Christmas Scrapbook Paper like this one from Martha Stewart (this is an Amazon affiliate link) or Hanukkah Scrapbook Paper.
- White Glue
- Hole Puncher.
Making twenty-four envelopes takes a bit of time, but nothing insurmountable. The steps, however, are beyond simple.
I have a daughter who is thrilled by holidays and had a hunch that she would enjoy making an activity-based advent calendar. When we were still going strong after an hour of folding and gluing, I silently patted myself on the back.
Make an Activity Advent Calendar
Step 1: Cut your paper to the desired size and fold it in thirds. One side should overlap the other by about 1/2 inch.
Step 2: Fold the bottom up about 1/2 inch and crease the paper.
Step 3: Open everything up. Make two cuts (see photo).
Step 4: Fold the paper together and add glue to seal it up.
Step 5: Add some more glue and seal up the bottom.
Make 23 more, and you’re ready to go.
Step 6: Punch holes in the back of the envelopes, run string through them, and hang the calendar.
Decorate away! And don’t forget to add some numbers.
How this worked for us
This project is more crafty than our usual process-based happenings, but my little one was deeply engaged in the industry of selecting images and do-dads to glue onto the bags. The benefits that I witnessed were:
- developing fine motor skills
- making aesthetic choices
- practicing with a glue bottle
- commitment to completing a fairly large project.
I also think she really enjoyed the camaraderie of working side-by-side with me, and I must admit that she’s pretty good company. Oh, and did I mention that she was invested in this for a solid hour? Seriously!!
Activity Advent Calendar Ideas
Our calendar is filled with holiday activities, written on pieces of paper, but you could certainly put small treats in each envelope if you’d like. Here are some ideas for activities, or click here to download the complete list as a printable for your fridge:
- Look at holiday lights
- Go caroling
- Make latkes (in case you celebrate Hanukkah too!)
- Visit Santa
- Build a Fire
- Make cookies
- Play with friends
- Have a family craft night
- Make ornaments
- Make Salt Dough Ornaments
- Deliver canned goods to those in need
- Decorate the tree
- Watch the Nutcracker Ballet
- Make a winter art project
- Make a gingerbread house
- Make gingerbread cookies with royal icing
- Build a snowman
- Decorate the house with lights
- Sing Carols
- Light Candles
- Take a family holiday photo
- Make rolled paper snowflakes
- Eat a Candy Cane
- Wrap presents
- Make cards for friends and family
- Pick out a tree
- Drink hot cocoa
- Make a snowflake collage
- Wear new pj’s
- Go Ice Skating
- Make Reindeer Food
- Go skiing
- Make Paper Winter Stars
- Watch a Christmas movie
- Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
- Buy a special ornament
- Make ornaments
- Make a wreath
- Make homemade gifts
- Hang stockings
- Go sledding
- Play in the snow
- Do something nice for someone
- Make popcorn
- Eat chestnuts
- Write a letter so Santa
- Make treats for the neighbors
If you make an activity calendar like we did, my best advice is to keep it simple. The holiday can be a stressful time, full of so many activities, parties, and travel. I like to put things in the calendar that we’re already planning to do, so that this doesn’t add more work to an already busy time of year.
Go easy on yourself and don’t overcommit with this project!